Sunday, September 03, 2006

Naguib Mahfouz

It was sad to know that Egyptian novelist and Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz passed away on August 29. He was 95.

Naguib lived a long life, almost a century long and his ouvre as a writer is quite impressive, both in quality and quantity--35 novels, 20 film scripts, a dozen collection of stories, essays, etc. But he will always be remembered for his Cairo Trilogy.

"GREAT writers often seem to haunt their cities. Joyce and Kafka remain ghostly figures on the streets of Dublin and Prague, and the elfin presence of Borges is still glimpsed, through cigarette smoke and tango sweat, in the caf├ęs of Buenos Aires. In the ancient city of Cairo, it is Naguib Mahfouz who does the haunting," says The Economist.

While reading his obit in The Economist, I loved this part: "Into his 70s he prowled far across the cityon solitary early morning walks, typically ending up in one of the many cafes where he was greeted as a returning son of the quartier. Into his 90s he rarely missed his weekly gathering of intimates at some public watering hole. There he soaked up the endless tales of woe, the political gossip and wicked jokes that provide the spice of Egyptian life."

How many writers like him are there amidst us? Many writers today live the lives of celebs who come down and meet the hoi ploi only when they have a book to launch.


Wordsbody said...

Lovely post on Mahfouz, Zafar. And that picture... so elegiac.


Zafar Anjum said...

Thanks MW. Appreciate your comments.

monideepa said...

A fitting tribute to Mahfouz. He was a true artist fraternising with the hoi poloi. I'm sure those interactions and characters found their way into his immortal works.